‘Use it, don’t lose it’

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While many growers gather data about their crops from season to season, too many are not using the knowledge they can gain from this to its best advantage, it has been claimed.

 

Providing potato crop insight from the ground up should be the key aim of all data collected on farms, according to well-known agronomist Paul Coleman, who has worked in the potato sector for 36 years and spent 23 years at Greenvale. Paul moved across to Greenvale’s parent company, the Product Investments Group, in January and, alongside Greenvale’s former Research Manager Dr Robert Allen N.Sch, is endeavouring to provide potato insight and forecasting that will help all agronomists and professional potato growers be more efficient.

The two have teamed up to create and market Crop4Sight, a grower-friendly new software solution providing in-season crop benchmarking. The platform, comprising an integrated mobile and web application, was demonstrated to Potato Review by Paul, who is now Crop4Sight’s Managing Director, and Robert, its Technical Director.

 

“We set out with key principals that when a grower records a piece of data about his potato crop, he must get something back from this. For every piece of data recorded, there should be some insight or forecast,” said Paul, adding: “As a potato grower, I am not interested in the gross yield, I am interested in the saleable yield. I cannot do that in my brain – I need something to do that for me, and that is the principal behind what we have decided to do.”

Benchmarking and milestones

Potato crop performance is benchmarked using variety specific milestones from planting onwards, allowing forecasts of likely outcomes throughout the season. These insights support informed crop management decisions required to optimise saleable yields. Crop4Sight aims to make users become the most efficient and profitable potato growers in their sector.

 

“Optimising inputs and maximising the saleable crop output is at the heart of what the system does,” Paul said. Analysis of historic data shows there is potential to increase saleable yields by up to 10% in many crops. The company estimates that on 60 hectares of potato production, this could deliver additional returns in excess of £21,000.